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tariki
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I took a little pocket edition of Thomas Merton's words with me to Scotland, and often dipped into it, normally when walking up to the local paper shop early in the morning. A wonderful selection of various gems.

 

Also recently I have trawled around various forums and seen many posts by those who would argue for a "narrow" way of "salvation", denying any efficacy to any way that used words other than their own chosen ones. Which is all it seems to come down to with many............words. If the words used by others do not match their own, then they are "untrue". (That often the very same truth is being pointed to would seem to indicate a certain blindness of spirit.)

 

But enough negativity.

 

Irenaeus once wrote....

 

If you are the work of God wait patiently for the hand of your artist who makes all things at an opportune time........Give to Him a pure and supple heart and watch over the form which the artist shapes in you........lest, in hardness, you lose the traces of his fingers......

 

Which suggests that we should not look for a method or a system, but rather seek to cultivate more an attitude or outlook - one of openess, attention, expectation, trust. A living faith, not a "belief" in a particular theology, which seems to me more often than not merely a construct of words grasped at and clung to as some form of "justification".

 

The passage of Merton pertinent to this is.......

 

There is and can be no special planned technique for discovering and awakening one's inner self, because the inner self is first of all a spontaniety that is nothing if not free. Therefore there is no use in trying to start with a definition of the inner self, and then deducing from its essential properties some appropriate and infallible means of submitting it to control - as if the essence could give us some clue to that which is in it, something we can lay hold of, in order to gain power over it. Such an idea would imply a complete misapprehension of the existential reality we are talking about. The inner self is not a part of our being, like a motor in a car. It is our entire substantial reality itself, on its highest and most personal level. It is like life, and it is life: it is our spiritual life when it is most alive. It is the life by which everything else in us lives and moves. It is in and through and beyond everything that we are. If it is awakened it communicates a new life to the intelligence in which it lives, so that it becomes a living awareness of itself: and this awareness is not so much something that we ourselves have, as something that we are. It is a new and indefineable quality of our Living being.

 

The inner self is as secret as God and, like Him, it evades every concept that tries to seize hold of it with full possession. It is a life that cannot be held and studied as object, because it is not "a thing." It is not reached and coaxed forth from hiding by any process under the sun, including meditation. All that we can do with any spiritual discipline is produce within ourselves something of the silence, the humility, the detachment, the purity of heart and the indifference which are required if the inner self is to make some predictable manifestation of his presence.

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Tariki wrote

 

we should not look for a method or a system, but rather seek to cultivate more an attitude or outlook - one of openess, attention, expectation, trust. A living faith, not a "belief" in a particular theology…

I agree, unless meditation could be called a method –and not as a rigid routine.

 

About the narrow paths to salvation you find on other sites –I’m curious as to why, as a Buddhist, you would continually seek out fundamentalists to debate with. Does it help you live your life? I understand that “robust” discussions can be stimulating mental exercise, but to me the negativity would outweigh the benefits. (Maybe, as Dutch said, men are more confrontational and women more conciliatory.) It’s wise to learn about other cultures and versions of our own faith. But trying to change them – does it not have the opposite effect more often than not?

 

If you don’t mind my asking -- have you ever, in on-line discussions, changed anyone’s mind about religion, that you know of? Or has anyone in a forum changed your mind, other than making you more aware of contrasting views? I can recall learning much from others, for which I’m deeply grateful. But it was never contradicting a way I already thought of God, Jesus, the universe, the bible, church, and all the social issues. More like expansions of what I already intuited or felt at heart.

 

To make one other comment (which I hope doesn’t offend you!) –other than your rejecting a literalist approach, I’m not convinced that you have acquainted yourself with the positive side of PC per se – if you haven’t read any of the well known PC authors. Thomas Merton, wonderful as he is, is not one of them.

 

 

(that said, thought it was a great quote by him :-)

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Tariki wrote

 

we should not look for a method or a system, but rather seek to cultivate more an attitude or outlook - one of openess, attention, expectation, trust. A living faith, not a "belief" in a particular theology…

I agree, unless meditation could be called a method –and not as a rigid routine.

 

About the narrow paths to salvation you find on other sites –I’m curious as to why, as a Buddhist, you would continually seek out fundamentalists to debate with. Does it help you live your life? I understand that “robust” discussions can be stimulating mental exercise, but to me the negativity would outweigh the benefits. (Maybe, as Dutch said, men are more confrontational and women more conciliatory.) It’s wise to learn about other cultures and versions of our own faith. But trying to change them – does it not have the opposite effect more often than not?

 

If you don’t mind my asking -- have you ever, in on-line discussions, changed anyone’s mind about religion, that you know of? Or has anyone in a forum changed your mind, other than making you more aware of contrasting views? I can recall learning much from others, for which I’m deeply grateful. But it was never contradicting a way I already thought of God, Jesus, the universe, the bible, church, and all the social issues. More like expansions of what I already intuited or felt at heart.

 

To make one other comment (which I hope doesn’t offend you!) –other than your rejecting a literalist approach, I’m not convinced that you have acquainted yourself with the positive side of PC per se – if you haven’t read any of the well known PC authors. Thomas Merton, wonderful as he is, is not one of them.

 

 

(that said, thought it was a great quote by him :-)

 

rivanna,

 

I genuinely feel that there is something positive in dialogue between faiths. My own attitude - unchosen in many ways - is to be "vulnerable" within any dialogue....i.e. being open to possible change oneself. As far as seeking anyone out, maybe I have given the wrong impressive. More often than not it is the fundamentalists who have sought me out, or at least by responding as they have to the posts I have made I have responded to them.

 

Having said that, whatever impression I give, I am a very vulnerable person (vulnerable in a different way than that already referred to). I have deep fears and anxieties, and I have felt the need to confront these. One way I have found beneficial is to speak my mind when confronted by those who seem unable to doubt their own convictions in any way, shape or form. To be honest, such conviction frighten the life out of me.(Fortunately, they all seem convinced of mutually contradictory things, which obviously seems to indicate that strong conviction does not necessarily equate with truth)

 

I am familiar with certain PC writings. I had a long "liberal" Christian period before opening to Buddhist ideas.

 

As far as changing anyones mind, I have found my own mind changing in certain ways. I have no idea if anyone else has amended their own views! As implied, I'm a very introspective person; I'm concerned with myself in that sense, not with the views of others.

 

I'd just say that "fundamantalism" is a mood found in all faiths, including Buddhism. And that on various forums I have received positive feedback from many posters who have welcomed many of my words, which have actually often been recognised and acknowledged as NON-confrontional and reconciling. ( Just to give my ego a boost, one poster referred to my "kind and unthreatening heart"....... B) )

 

I'm not sure exactly what you mean concerning the positive side of PC. I seek to see the positive side of any faith that offers reconciliation rather than confrontation. That I do not pick out PC as a label I wish to give myself makes no difference. Really, I don't really like any label as such, which tend to divide. I understood I was here on this forum as a special guest of some sort, even though I do not apply the PC label to myself. Perhaps my post was on the wrong section?

 

Maybe move it to "Other Wisdom Traditions"?

 

All the best

Derek

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To All, (Just FYI to avoid the inevitable confusion of why a seeming Pure Land Buddhist is allowed to post in this area)

 

In support of tariki, and just so there are no misunderstandings, The moderators here had in the past decided that since Tariki (Derek) is in agreement with the 8 points of PC with no exceptions and he also found an approach to God through the teachings of Jesus, that regardless of what label he wished to personally ascribe to himself if any, he fit well into the PC umbrella and was free to post in the PC area when desiring to post within the PC area guidelines rather than the debate area guidelines.

 

JosephM (as Admin)

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Prayer beads are in many religious cultures; Japa Mala , Tesbih, Rosary, Prayer Ropes, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity use beads as a technique. It seems the prayer beads are effective on the physical, mental and spiritual levels. They seem to keep the body occupied along with the mind so the spirit can be experienced without distraction. Tariki it seems you use Merton and Buddhist sutras or ideas to occupy your mind while you soar in spirit. Sometimes I use sutras, but my mental and physical beads are constant in meditation and yoga for take off. The gravitational pull of earth is so strong is takes a great force to go beyond its reach. Once in outer space one is supported in a vacuum. The trust and rocket are no longer needed. I feel techniques are good as long as one knows they are effective only as a vehicle or rocket. I remember waiting for the winds to blow and my spirit to be felt. It seems the waiting was long, but well worth it. I know it is always there, but sometimes I am not. Techniques like a well worn path I feel help speed the journey with no distance, to nowhere. Techniques can be effective in setting the environment conducive for the spirit to be felt. Once there, there are no beads, techniques, Buddhist or Christians. Only pure bliss, pure consciousness, no mind, no body, and no spirit so how and why do we go there because when we return it feels so good? The after taste, aura or grace can be shared in love. May be all taste the Amrita, Ambrosia, Soma, Soul, Spirit and Love we all deserve? The techniques for me are the different spoons used for tasting.

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Tariki,

 

as you may recall -- Im one of the people who was so appreciative of your returning to this forum last year your love of the poetic, your thoughtful input is welcome and refreshing, and I agree about positive value in dialogue between faiths.

 

Its just that, for me, Buddhism is associated with seeking detachment, calm acceptance, serenity perhaps this is too simple minded and it was always puzzling to me why you would want to engage in stressful religious arguments. I was not judging, only trying to understand. So thanks for clarifying that.

Edited by rivanna
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Tariki,

 

as you may recall -- I’m one of the people who was so appreciative of your returning to this forum last year – your love of the poetic, your thoughtful input is welcome and refreshing, and I agree about positive value in dialogue between faiths.

 

It’s just that, for me, Buddhism is associated with seeking detachment, calm acceptance, serenity – perhaps this is too simple minded — and it was always puzzling to me why you would want to engage in stressful religious arguments. I was not judging, only trying to understand. So thanks for clarifying that.

 

rivanna,

 

Really, I saw no judgement in anything you said. And we all seem to have our ideas of other faiths, and for me it is always a positive when something said by a member of one surprises me and makes me see that my own mental "square holes" are unable to accomodate the rounded reality they seem to speak of, or live.

 

Just a little more about these other forums. As well as the almost inevitable "confrontation" aspect, I also speak positively of faith in general, and of the Christian faith as I understand it. This in an atmosphere where "fundamantalist/literalist/conservative" presentation of the faith has drawn forth countless posts condemning such beliefs. This to me is the tragedy, that quite often - rightly or wrongly - a "literalist" approach draws down ridicule upon itself.It often seems to me that many who reject religion entirely do so because all they know of it is such a presentation. I know from feedback that much of what I have argued has been appreciated.

 

And to a certain extent the "stressful" aspect has diminished considerably, which to a certain extent has been the whole pint of the exercise.

 

Anyway, all the best

Derek

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Prayer beads are in many religious cultures; Japa Mala , Tesbih, Rosary, Prayer Ropes, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity use beads as a technique. It seems the prayer beads are effective on the physical, mental and spiritual levels. They seem to keep the body occupied along with the mind so the spirit can be experienced without distraction. Tariki it seems you use Merton and Buddhist sutras or ideas to occupy your mind while you soar in spirit. Sometimes I use sutras, but my mental and physical beads are constant in meditation and yoga for take off. The gravitational pull of earth is so strong is takes a great force to go beyond its reach. Once in outer space one is supported in a vacuum. The trust and rocket are no longer needed. I feel techniques are good as long as one knows they are effective only as a vehicle or rocket. I remember waiting for the winds to blow and my spirit to be felt. It seems the waiting was long, but well worth it. I know it is always there, but sometimes I am not. Techniques like a well worn path I feel help speed the journey with no distance, to nowhere. Techniques can be effective in setting the environment conducive for the spirit to be felt. Once there, there are no beads, techniques, Buddhist or Christians. Only pure bliss, pure consciousness, no mind, no body, and no spirit so how and why do we go there because when we return it feels so good? The after taste, aura or grace can be shared in love. May be all taste the Amrita, Ambrosia, Soma, Soul, Spirit and Love we all deserve? The techniques for me are the different spoons used for tasting.

 

soma,

 

Thanks. Really, I just see the life I live each day as my only "technique". It seems to me to be the "calculating" aspect, coupled with a preoccupation with "results", that for me stifle the spirit.

 

"The earth brings forth fruits of itself". I suppose my technique is just seeking to get out of the way!

 

:)

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I suppose my technique is just seeking to get out of the way!

Tariki, I like that technique and you applied it well reminding us not to be attached to our spiritual practice and that it is just a technique. I agree and play dodge ball all the time with Our Lord and most of the time I get hit right between the eyes.
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I just see the life I live each day as my only "technique". It seems to me to be the "calculating" aspect, coupled with a preoccupation with "results", that for me stifle the spirit.

 

"The earth brings forth fruits of itself". I suppose my technique is just seeking to get out of the way!

 

:)

 

You have a good technique. When I sit down to meditate, to remind myself that I am not there to just meditate, I remind myself that the peace and stillness is always there and that it is there before during and after I meditate. Meditation then is just the technique to get me out of the way. It helps me see my mind wanting to be in the forefront blocking the stillness with activity and emotions.

Edited by soma
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You have a good technique. When I sit down to meditate, to remind myself that I am not there to just meditate, I remind myself that the peace and stillness is always there and that it is there before during and after I meditate. Meditation then is just the technique to get me out of the way. It helps me see my mind wanting to be in the forefront blocking the stillness with activity and emotions.

 

Hopefully my I just see the life I live each day as my only "technique", is not seen as some claim that my life as such holds "virtue", or would be a window through which others would see "truth". Not meant that way at all! More along the lines of some words from a little book on Cistercian spirituality, seeing such as a life which is not a succession of alternating superior and inferior activities, but rather a continuous rhythm of equally valid ones. I think once we habitually live without mindfulness, and then every so often gird our loins (!) for "practice", and then afterwards look back on "practice" as some sort of "justification".....well, all things seem to fall apart. In Christian terms it becomes a way of "works".

 

The Pure Land way is saying the nembutsu, a way of "non-practice"! Paradoxically this saying of namu amida butsu, as we cling to its saying as justification, the foolishness of such becomes more and more apparent. I'm really lost for words! Effort needs to fall away, reaching the end of its scope, giving way to surrender.

 

It just seems that if technique = works then our lives break into pieces. And then there is always the danger that those with another technique are seen as lacking in some sense.

 

"They do Him wrong who take God just in one particular way. They take the way rather than God." (Eckhart)

Edited by tariki
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tariki,

 

It seems to me that 'no technique' can also be a technique. Personally, i would not be too concerned and use whatever seems helpful for the time. Perhaps it is not necessary to be attached to either way and like a fruit when ripe perhaps it will fall away of its own accord in time.

smile.gif

Joseph

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True! In the middle of my waffling I have had the "revelation" of such a truth!.............. :D

 

The paradox of using the mind to go beyond it. I look at it as taking a little antibiotic, a little of the disease in order to cure the disease and yes, activity does lead to inactivity, or a craving for stillness. Maybe that is why the Yin Yang symbol looks like it is constantly moving.

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Tariki wrote a few posts ago: "I'd just say that fundamentalism is a mood found in all faiths, including Buddhism."

 

Part of this sounds misleading -- a mood is a shifting, transitory frame of mind, an emotional disposition, a whim. You might be in a mood to talk about music or art one day, and the next be focused on philosophy and religion; but your basic values and attitudes remain the same.

 

I agree that fundamentalism occurs in all major faiths -- as does mysticism, which seems like the direction youre suggesting. So the idea of no narrow path or exclusive salvation club, goes well with the subtitle - the spirit moves where it will. Sometimes I sense that we may be more open to connecting with God when we begin by expressing gratitude for anything were thankful for, even in the midst of negative emotion. Not as a technique or verbal formula, but simply being aware of ourselves in relation to the divine.

 

Jim Wallis says the best response to fundamentalism is to take faith more seriously than it sometimes does --to assert the vital religious commitments that they often leave outnamely compassion, social justice, peacemaking, and religious pluralism.

Edited by rivanna
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